I have been using airplane mode on my phone more frequently over the past few months. Airplane (or flight) mode, which is a simple on-off tap on most phones, essentially disables data transmission and reception (including phone calls, since all communication is digital now) but leaves the phone’s internal processes and apps functioning.
(As an aside, there is some disagreement as to whether this is critically important to an aircraft’s navigation, or whether it has persisted at the behest of airlines to avoid the cacophony and irritation… and perhaps health effects… of hundreds of people crammed together in a large tube all yacking, texting, and what not.)
It began with putting the phone on airplane mode overnight, since I also use it as an alarm clock. One reason was to avoid the distraction and intrusion of various messages and notifications… even on mute there are still indicator lights flashing and screen lighting each time something comes in, or up. There’s not much, if anything, that can’t wait for morning.
Another reason was to make the internet less available, and hence less likely that “I’m just going to look something up”. It’s funny, when it comes to phone use, how often you hear people preface taking their phone in hand with the phrase, “I’m just going to…”. It shows, perhaps, that on some level we realize what we are about to do with it is neither pressing nor necessary. Listen for it, you’ll be surprised. Anyhow, with the phone on airplane mode it requires a more conscious decision requiring multiple steps on my part to interact with the internet.
And another reason… though it might reveal what some would consider an unreasonable degree of health concern… is that I don’t really want to sleep for 7 or 8 hours close beside my phone, which is pinging several times a minute with a radio signal strong enough to reach a tower several kilometres away.
Well, there’s more reasons. But we’ll leave it there. What I want to get around to saying is that there is what can best be described as a sense of relief putting the phone on airplane mode. It feels different than just placing it in another room or somewhere out of sight. You know it will not beckon, nor interrupt or tempt. It is blissful disconnection. Now I’ve been putting it on airplane mode more often: during yoga, on a nature walk, while reading, eating out, sometimes while driving, or anytime I just don’t want the potential intrusion or distraction.
And that got me to thinking about the notion of a personal airplane mode. What if we were to occasionally put ourselves into a mental and/or physical space where we are nurturing our “internal processes” but do not have external communication & connection for a period of time? I guess first might be determining what that would look like. It could be as simple as turning off—not just mute but off—devices and closing the door. Or maybe taking a whole day for oneself, to be fully with oneself, letting people know in advance we’ll be out-of-range. Or it might even be a personal retreat of sorts, perhaps taking oneself to a different space or place, sequestered from usual sights, sounds, things and inputs of everyday life.
Think about what a personal flight mode might look like for you. And when you’re feeling brave, or indulgent, or you’re at the point you know you need to switch it on, give it a go. And be prepared to *be* with yourself. It might feel strange, it’s been a while in this connected would be live in.
A semi-related article see the blog entry, The Joy of Missing Out, on the Wildmind Meditation site.